by Patrick Bromley
Back in March of 2015, Olive Films released the 1987 Cannon adventure "classic" Allen Quatermaine and the Lost City of Gold on Blu-ray for the first time. It is the sequel to King Solomon's Mines, which was released in 1985 and is directed by Cannon staple J. Lee Thompson. For whatever reason, the HD releases of the two films were switched, which means two years later we're finally getting King Solomon's Mines on Blu-ray despite it being the first of the two films. A cause to celebrate? I mean, maybe, if you're as much of a Cannon completist as I am. The rest of you can probably go about your lives.
Based on the series of adventures created by H. Rider Haggard back in 1885 and previously adapated to the screen in 1950, King Solomon's Mines casts Richard Chamberlain as Haggard's heroic Allan Quatermain, adventurer extraordinaire hired by Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone) to find her father, who went missing while looking for the fabled King Solomon's mines. It turns out he has been captured by the German military and a fellow fortune hunter by the name of Dogati (John Rhys-Davies), who want Jesse's father to interpret a map leading to the mines.
Which is not to say there isn't fun to be had, particularly if you're a student of Cannon (and all '80s exploitation) like I am. There's a low-tech charm to the way Cannon strives for big-budget scale in some of their more ambitious efforts, a category in which I would include both King Solomon's Mines and its sequel. There are underground volcanoes and giant underwater monsters. There is an alligator pit and there is quicksand. There are armies and African tribes (which reminds me, this movie is really racist even by the standards of a 1985 adaptation of 1800s literature). Cannon was thinking big with their Quatermain films, which makes the sequences where they had to cut corners stand out all the more. There is a long -- and I mean loooong -- airplane escape that cuts between passably-shot stunt footage and some pretty terrible rear projection close-ups. I don't typically mind that sort of thing, as I enjoy the cheap handmade charm of those effects; the degree to which King Solomon's Mines relies on those shots and lingers on them calls to much attention to them and underscores just what an uninteresting action sequence it is. You can only get by trying to generate visceral excitement out of reaction shots for so long.
The completist in me is thrilled to have King Solomon's Mines on Blu-ray, where it can now sit alongside Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold and get dusted off whenever I feel like some cheap, dopey adventure. Sure, I usually feel like watching Raiders or Temple of Doom just like I usually feel like ordering pizza from one of the good places around us. But sometimes I feel like eating Pizza Hut, too. Days like that are what King Solomon's Mines are made for.
Blu-ray release date: February 21, 2017
DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
Subtitles: English (SDH)
Buy King Solomon's Mines from Olive Films here.